Tag Archives: Parliament

The Devil’s Mistress or the Devil’s Whore

The_Devil's_WhoreI happened to catch this miniseries on TV this weekend and I found it really engrossing.  It was called The Devil’s Whore in most of the world, but we puritanical Americans needed the modified title of the Devil’s Mistress. Because if you pay her in the street she’s a dirty whore, but if you get her an apartment and buy her some gifts, she’s a classy mistress.  Apparently.

The miniseries is from 2008, and features a lot of well-known actors who have gone on to be quite famous. For the Doctor Who fans, we have John Simm (the Master) as Edward Sexby, and Peter Capaldi (the new Doctor) as the ill-fated Charles I.

Dominic West (the Wire) plays Oliver Cromwell, Andrea Riseborough (W./E., Oblivion) plays fictional Angelica Fanshawe, and Michael Fassbender (every movie ever) plays Thomas Rainsborough. Tom Goodman-Hill (Mr. Grove in Mr. Selfridge) plays Honest John Lilburne.

As you’ll have guessed (if you know even basic British history), this miniseries takes place just before and during the English Civil War.  If you haven’t learned basic British history, here’s the 2 cent tour of the era.  Charles I was a dictator of Scottish descent with a French wife.  That meant people thought he was too close to ‘Papists’, and that his policies would benefit Catholics at the expense of Protestants.  After all the bloodshed and confusion of the 16th century battle between Catholicism and Protestantism in England, the majority of the English were vehemently opposed to ‘Papists’. Charles I and Parliament engaged in a very long struggle for power, which ended with Charles I being beheaded in London.  Oliver Cromwell became the leader of the Long Parliament, and appointed himself ‘Lord Protector’.  Though he’d argued against monarchy, he very quickly established himself as a king in all but name.  This lasted until the Restoration of the monarchy with Charles’ son returning to England after Cromwell’s death.  The monarchy has existed without any real interruption since that time.

This miniseries starts with Angelica Fanshawe preparing to marry her childhood sweetheart, Harry. She’s wealthy and connected; King Charles himself attends and blesses her wedding.

Angelica Fanshawe3 (Andrea Riseborough)

We see brief flashbacks. Angelica was raised by a Catholic mother, during the very violent time just after Protestantism was established in England. Her mother abandoned her for God, and Angelica was (understandably) angry.  She proclaims that there is no god, and that is the first time she gets a vision of a demon.  She sees them all her life.

A lot is going on during the day of her wedding.  John Lilburne is whipped for distributing pamphlets arguing against the tyrannical rule of King Charles. Sexby sees Angelica and immediately falls in love with her, though he is quickly reminded that his social standing (lowly soldier for pay) prevents him from even thinking about her in an untoward way.  The ribbing of his friends causes her groom Harry to have a really pathetic problem with insecurity. He spends the rest of their marriage being jealous and angry, trying to make her give up her independence and her ability to make decisions.  To say I hate him would be an understatement.

Thankfully for me, Harry meets a sticky end at the hands of the ever-more tyrannical Charles I.  We see Angelica’s situation change overnight. She’s no longer wealthy or desired, she’s out on the streets. At the same time, Sexby, Cromwell, and Rainsborough are leading the charge against Charles; they are allied with Honest John Lilburne, but not for long.

article-1086202-027D020F000005DC-344_468x328Episodes 2 and 3 see Angelica change a lot.  She is forced to become independent and to examine the world she’s living in–rather than just accepting it as good based on her own privileged experiences.  *Cue Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone‘*  As a woman, this is a lot more difficult than for a man. She has no property, no money, no skills.  Starving, she accepts some soup offered to her by a wealthy man.  As soon as she is done eating, he tries to claim his ‘payment’.  After a bit of a tussle, she stabs him to keep him from raping her. Sexby turns up as Angelica is on the run, and helps to protect her from justice.

Angelica finally sees the bitter truth of life for those who aren’t as privileged as she has been.  Her loyalties change and she abandons the royalist cause and takes up with the Roundheads (aka those allied with Parliament in their conflict with the king.  The royalists were called Cavaliers).  She is drawn to Fassbender’s Rainsborough. He is a good mix between the too-earnest and impractical Lilburne and the severely pragmatic Cromwell. The two take up a love affair, but alas.  It’s not to be. Joliffe, the best friend of the man Angelica killed, is after her.  He wants to hang her as a murderess and a whore, and seems to take extreme pleasure in the idea of punishing a woman who wouldn’t give a man what he thought he deserved.

Things turn uglier as the miniseries continues.  Rainsborough and Angelica get married, but he is killed soon after–by his supposed friend Cromwell.  Angelica is pregnant and mourning a second husband, and is soon after arrested and sentenced to hang. She is due to be executed the same day as the king, newly convicted by a brutal Parliament and Cromwell, its leader.

As he can generally be expected to do, Sexby turns up to save Angelica. I won’t spoil what happens in the 4th episode, but it doesn’t turn out particularly well for anyone. I will say that at least one person dies, Sexby has at least one more chance to save Angelica from a terrible fate, and a baby is born at the end.

Here are a few things that struck me about this miniseries:

1-The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Under Charles I, John Lilburne is imprisoned for causing trouble, there is corruption and tyranny from a despotic ruler, and women are under the proverbial boots of incredibly awful men. After Charles I is killed and Cromwell takes over…it’s all the same.  It was a time of great revolution in England, but the changes seemed to be superficial and ineffectual.  Certainly nothing seemed to change for the better. John Lilburne rots in prison for criticizing Charles I, but he dies in prison under the governance of his supposed friends.

2-I have mixed feelings about Sexby.  I think he’s quite heroic and certainly a friend a girl wants to have if she’s going to constantly be in danger of being raped/murdered/executed.  His long slow burn of pining love for her is romantic, when it’s happening on screen.  But if it were real life, I don’t know that I’d feel the same way.  If the miniseries was set in modern times, I feel too much that he would be wearing a fedora and complaining that the girl he liked kept him in the ‘friendzone’. Side note, if you’re unfamiliar with the trope I am discussing, look at a few pages of this tumbr (or this one) and you’ll learn a new breed of  men to avoid. Sexby is a loyal and good friend to Angelica, but it’s quite clear he spends each moment hoping for more, and-once-gets unjustifiably angry and almost violent with her for not feeling what he feels.

While I find Sexby quite engaging and interesting, Angelica tells him she can never love him, and then ‘realizes’ her feelings for him almost the very next time she sees him.  Who wrote that? I have never once had that sort of reversal of feeling. Any women reading this: has this ever happened to you?  Did a man write this? Because I find it really hard to believe.

3-Note to self: do not attempt to lead a happy life during Civil War or revolution.  Both Angelica and Sexby get fucked around by the royalists and the roundheads, and the system in general.  There’s no hope for a happy ending.

4-Why on earth did they make her see the devil?  A lot of the miniseries paints Angelica as a liberated, almost modern, woman, which was very dangerous and could be considered demonic during that (literally) puritanical period.  She’s seen by several of her opponent’s as the Devil’s Whore, because she’s living a life outside social norms.  That’s all pretty powerful and makes me feel so grateful I don’t live in the 17th century. I would have been burned or drowned long ago.  The whole hallucinating a demon thing just seems like a strange distraction. It lessens the lunacy of their claims that she is the Devil’s Whore, and almost gives their accusations some weight.  I don’t understand the purpose of it at all.

Despite my reservations, I think it was a good miniseries.  I found it engrossing and easy to watch, and I did learn some things I never knew about that period of English history.  I take it all with a grain of salt, but a little bit of history and some entertainment are (in my book) a good way to spend an evening.

Same-Sex Marriage in the U.K.

Big Ben and Gay flagNormally, this is not a political blog, but something happened this week in the U.K. that I can’t resist commenting on. On the 6th, the House of Commons voted to allow same-sex marriage in the U.K. While this doesn’t make it a law yet (there is one more vote in the H-o-C and then a vote in the House of Lords), the large majority who passed the bill make me optimistic for its chances in the additional votes required.

Of course, civil partnerships have existed in the U.K. since 2005, so they have already been light years ahead of us in the U.S.  2005?  That’s one year before some idiots over here were trying to amend the constitution to define marriage as between men and women.  Gay couples have been able to have the same rights as married heterosexual couples for 8 years there, which is pretty damn impressive.  Especially when you consider that more of our states have prohibited gay marriage than allowed it (by a big margin).

If you’re wondering why there would be a big push for gay ‘marriage’ as opposed to a ‘civil partnership’, CNN had an interview with an adorable couple that had been together for 25 years. They already had a civil partnership, but they wanted a marriage because they wanted their relationship to be celebrated and recognized in a religious institution.  Here’s a video of them explaining why the difference is important.

On the Guardian website, I found another quote that points out something very important about the difference. I hadn’t even thought of this:

I believe a UK marriage is currently accepted worldwide, which has particular importance for visa applications, work permits and health and social security, when a couple moves overseas. A civil partnership, however, is binding only in the UK and certain other countries which recognise it. If David Cameron can ensure that all countries, no matter how intolerant their own laws, will recognise a UK marriage between a couple of the same sex, then he is indeed making history.
Chris Hosty
Birmingham

I think the most remarkable and beautiful thing about this vote passing (besides the huge majority that were in favor) is that it wasn’t across party lines.  David Cameron (the current Conservative party leader, and P.M.) along with the numbers 2 and 3 (Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary) all came out strongly in favor of the bill and its stance on equality.  Most of the Nay votes for the bill did come from the Conservative party, but its leaders have been brave and said what they think is right.  And that’s something to be applauded, regardless of how I feel about the rest of their politics.

You wouldn’t see a lot of that bipartisan support here.  I’m a liberal (if this blog didn’t tip you off), but I think anyone awake in America today can see that the Conservative party is aligned very closely with people with very strict notions about Christianity and a moral compass tied to those beliefs. This isn’t an issue about equality for them, but of their own ideas of right and wrong.  Jon Stewart pointed out some of the differences between the opposition to this measure in the U.K. versus the U.S. Watch it here.  With bonus Harry Potter references.

Of course, there are strong opponents in the U.K., particularly the Church of England. The new Archbishop of Canterbury strongly opposes the bill. Big shock there.  I would like to point out that the bill allows for religious marriage ceremonies in institutions that don’t object to the idea.  So if your parish doesn’t want to marry you, I guess they don’t have to.  The couple on CNN points out that they wouldn’t want the happiest day of their lives to be ruined by someone who was forced to take part, so this is no issue for them.  I hope there are enough enlightened vicars & etc. in the UK that this part of the law is not an issue for couples that want to get married.

One strong MP opponent said that defining marriage is not the place of the legislature…apparently it’s just the job of the church? Well, wake up guy, you’re in a country with a massive amount of immigrants from a ton of different countries. You’ve got every religion under the sun in a few square blocks of London.  For the Anglican church to determine what those people get to do is ludicrous; how would you feel if…Islam got to determine what you did? Or Buddhism? And what about the estimated 30% of UK citizens who don’t ascribe to any specific religion or are not religious? Why should the church determine what their marriages should be?  This is exactly the job for the legislature, because no one church can represent the UK.

David Cameron is also on the receiving end of some angry grumbling within his own party. Some are concerned that this measure will cost them votes in the next election.  I don’t see how that argument works out.  It’s a Conservative party, doing something that might attract liberal voters.  So they may lose some hardcore Tory votes but they will probably gain a lot more moderate liberal votes.

David Cameron, I am not your biggest fan, but I hope you tell them all to piss off. You’re doing the right thing. And it will earn you votes (which I think you’re smart enough to know) because people like me won’t think you’re quite as big of a dick as previously estimated.

Cameron has successfully rebranded his party by taking on issues like gay marriage and environmentalism.  The only openly gay lesbian MP in the Conservative party, Margot James, pointed out that the party had to modernize if it wasn’t going to go the way of the US Republican party and alienate moderate voters.  Smart lady.

I can only hope that some politicians and newsmakers in this country will look at the UK Conservative party and see that this sort of reasonable behavior does win respect and it does win votes.  It might be easier for me to say I hope the Republicans continue to implode via discussions about legitimate rape, and Democrats keep winning…but that’s not what’s best for the country. I’d like two logical and reasonable parties please.  For an example, look across the pond.

Book Review: Wolf Hall

9780312429980I had very high hopes for this book. It was the winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize, which is a list that provides me with incredibly good reading every single year.  It’s the first book in a trilogy, and the second of those books (Bringing Up The Bodies) won the Man Booker prize this year. It’s also historical fiction, which I love.  I was entirely ready to love this book.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t.

Wolf Hall is the first book in the ongoing Thomas Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantel.  Thomas Cromwell was a true historical figure, a close adviser to Cardinal Wolsey and then to Henry VIII.  Wolf Hall concentrates on the end of Cromwell’s time with Cardinal Wolsey and the beginning of his close relationship with Henry.

The Tudor period seems very popular in the last decade, from the Jonathan Rhys Meyers series, The Tudors to The Other Boleyn Girl. To me, it’s not nearly as interesting a time in England as the Victorian era, but that’s just personal preference. I think this is the first historical fiction I have read set in the 16th century, and I did learn a lot about the period and the history and about Henry VIII.

I usually start my book reviews with a brief synopsis, but I cannot do so with this book.  And therein lies the problem (one of them) with the book.  Things happen, for certain, but not along a traditional plot line with rising action, a climax, and a resolution.  It seems to be more just a recording of things that happen over nearly a decade in these characters’ lives.  No one event is given more weight, importance, or consequences than any other event.  The book has the pace of real life, with the tragic and epic occurring just alongside the everyday and the insignificant. This makes it very realistic, but I think it does not make for good fiction. I couldn’t tell you a specific reason why Mantel started this story where she did and stopped it where she did.  I can’t tell you what I was supposed to glean from this portion of Cromwell’s life.  Since it is a trilogy, the lack of proper ending is understandable–the very last page leads directly into the next book in the series–but there is just no story arch in this book.  Some of the most devastating events happen sporadically in the middle of the book, such as the deaths of some of Cromwell’s family members due to plague.
I just couldn’t get a handle on this story in terms of a recognizable plot.

The book covers a period in English history of religion and monarchy in extreme tension.

Brief history lesson, if you don’t remember your high school classes/that Simpsons episode: Henry VIII was married to Katherine, the Spanish princess. She gave birth to Princess Mary, but was not successful in producing a male heir.  As she aged, Henry VIII became anxious about having someone to take over as King.  At the same time, Anne Boleyn caught his eye as a possible mistress, but she basically teased him and bribed him until he found a way to annul his marriage to Katherine and marry her instead.

At the same time, the reformation of the Catholic church was spreading from Germany (much of it directly resulting from Martin Luther’s 95 Theses), and there were parties in England interested in reforming the church in their country.  These two interests became united in one solution. The king was convinced to break with the church  after the pope refused to grant him an annulment from Katherine.  So what was kind of a personal thing (marriage) became a huge issue that influenced the religion of everyone in England (and the US if you want to argue causation) for several centuries.  The Anglican church became the official church of England, with the Monarchy at its head. For several hundred years, Catholicism was outlawed (except for brief respites).

Okay, enough history.  So this was a huge, very important thing in England all stemming from/hinging upon Henry’s desire for a male heir.  It’s a really fascinating time in history, and Henry and Anne are a very interesting pair.  It should make for a great book.

Unfortunately, the plot is just non-existent. The action has sort of bookends on either side of the reformation. At the beginning, Cardinal Wolsey is just beginning to fall into disfavor and to have his lands and wealth reclaimed by the crown. The action ends with the death of Sir Thomas More, who was I suppose the last holdout stopping the progress of the English Reformation at the time. Other than that, the action just seems to occur in order and have no significance attached to it.

The writing is not bad, but it is very difficult to follow. Each person has different names/titles, and often they are referred to as one and then the other.  Examples include referring to Stephen Gardner as Stephen Gardner, as Gardner, as Bishop of Winchester, as Winchester, as Master Secretary, etc.  This is all one guy, but she flits between referring to him as one thing, then another, then a third.  Add to that, the lack of dialogue tags in most of the dialogue.  All of Cromwell’s thoughts and quotes are identified by ‘he said’. If you’re lucky, she throws you a ‘he, Cromwell, said’.  It’s very difficult to tell who is speaking and to whom.  I would have to go back and reread paragraphs to decipher what was going on.  What on earth is wrong with just saying ‘Cromwell said’ or ‘Cromwell thought’.  Or ‘I said’/’I thought’. It’s like she didn’t want to commit to first person or third person, and decided instead to confuse the hell out of everyone.  Just pick!

There are also a lot of characters, and the list in the front does include most of them, but not in a very helpful arrangement. Add to that the fact that it doesn’t list all of their titles, despite the fact that people are often referred to by their titles.  There are six or seven dukes running around the novel, but sometimes speech is identified just by ‘the duke said’.  It was really hard to follow.

So there is no plot and it is hard to read.  There were only two redeeming features of this novel, in my opinion.  One was the complexity of the characters. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel with so many complex and varied characters. A particular highlight is the mercurial king and his equally capricious Anne.  Their relationship, their mannerisms, the way they affect everyone around them, it’s all very interesting to read and drawn out realistically.  They were the highlight of the book for me.

The other saving grace of the work was how clear it was that Mantel had done her research. I learned a lot about the period and about London, and the book made the history of the time come alive more completely than any history text I’ve ever read. When you read about these things in history class, it seems so brief, concise, and altered. Binary, really. One minute, they were a Catholic country, and the next minute, they were Protestant. But this book shows just how long, drawn out, and completely hypocritical the whole thing was.  One minute, Sir Thomas More is torturing reformists and people who had the gall to circulate the Bible in English (in England… just let that sink in for a minute, that that was a crime) and by the end of the book, More is being executed for treason/heresy.  There are a lot of executions in the book, and almost all of them are for people following their own beliefs about religion, and not the ones that the government was (that day) shoving down their throats.  All I can say is, in this environment, it’s no wonder the pilgrims were headed to the New World less than 100 years later. Being burned alive for saying the communion wafers/bread is not really the body of Christ is a bit extreme, yes?

So, this book was a disappointment. Add to that, the fact that it was really long (604 pages) and I was glad to be finished with it.  I’m disappointed I didn’t like it more, because I thought perhaps I would read the second one.  I don’t think I have the energy, unfortunately.  If you’re really obsessed with the Tudor era, and have a lot of patience to decipher dialogue with no tags, then you might enjoy this.  But expect it to take a while and feel incomplete at the end.

Also, if you’re curious (as I was), the Thomas Cromwell described in the book is distantly related to the Oliver Cromwell who took over England in the mid-17th century.  Oliver was Thomas’ sister’s grandson.  So he was Oliver’s great-uncle, I think.  It’s kind of amazing to think of a family coming from absolute obscurity (no money or noble pedigree) and having one be chief adviser to the King, and then a relative be ‘Lord Protector’ and de facto dictator of that same country.  And they say there is no upward movement in the British class system.

Trip to England–what to see?!

After my last post, which turned out to be far more controversial than I expected, I’ve decided to go for a less contentious topic.

I am going back to England for the first time in 3 years, and am in the midst of deciding what to see.  I’ll be going in August, so thank god the Olympics will be over and the crowds might have dispersed a bit.

There are certain things that I think every tourist should see, and certain things I think are overrated.  So I’m going to share my personal recommendations, but would also love some ideas for attractions and events that are off the beaten track.

I’ve already made a post outlining my favorite parts of the UK, and I do hope to go back to some of them. But first things first, what’s worth seeing if you’re new to London, only there for a short time, want to see as much as possible, etc.

My top 5 recommendations to See/Do:

1-Parliament and Westminster Abbey

The lines are very long in the summer, but I have to say it’s worth it. These are, arguably, the two most important buildings in the country, and they are right next to each other. One has seen the coronation of 36 different monarchs, dating back to William the Conqueror in 1066. The other has seen the gradual shift of power away from the monarchy (and the clergy) to the hands of the Lords, and then to the hands of the Commons.  I was particularly happy to see Poet’s Corner inside Westminster Abbey, where writers from Geoffrey Chaucer to Elizabeth Gaskell to Ted Hughes are interred or memorialized. I do, however, recommend going in the off-season or early on a weekday, if possible.

2-British Museum

My favorite part about (most of) the museums in London is that they’re FREE. Not because I don’t value learning or museums in general, but because this takes off the pressure to see everything in one day, in one go.  Which means if you have 20 minutes, you have time to see the Rosetta Stone, the second best collection of Egyptian artifacts (Cairo is, logically, a bit better), pieces off the Parthenon, as well as the same artifacts that inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats to write some of their most famous poems.

3-Albertopolis–

This is an area of South Kensington so called because almost every important building you see was created by Prince Albert, or in his memory. If you don’t know, Albert was Queen Victoria’s husband. He urged the purchase of this area of London with the profits from the Great Exhibition of 1851, and tons of public buildings were erected on it. It’s a major cultural center and there is truly something for everything. Attractions include the Albert Memorial, the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Royal Albert Hall.

4-The Royal Parks–

I can’t narrow it down to just one, but there are lots of parks in London. The Royal Parks refers to the areas technically hereditary property of the crown. These were hunting grounds for the monarchy back in the day. My favorite’s include Hyde Park, St. James’, and Regent’s, but really the point of these parks is just to have some green space in the city. It’s a really green city, with small parks and squares dotted around everywhere. On the first proper Spring day, you see people in droves, sitting in the grass with their shoes off, reading or sleeping or eating picnics. It’s lovely.

5-The South Bank.

None of the individual attractions of the South Bank are my favorite things in London, but if you add them together, along with the view of the Thames, the street performers, and the Saturday flea markets, it’s an awesome atmosphere. Skip the lines and just spend the afternoon walking. If you start from the Tower Bridge, you can walk past City Hall (called Darth Vader’s helmet b/c of its shape), past the reconstructed Globe theatre and the Tate Modern museum (worth a glance, even if you don’t get modern art), past Waterloo station and into the ‘culture complex’ which contains the National Theatre, galleries, festival halls, dining, the British Film Institute, past the Eye, the aquarium, and all the way to Westminster Bridge with its infamous views.  After that long walk, take in dinner and then hit a show at the National, or walk a few blocks to the Old Vic.  Trust me, that’s a good day right there.

Honorable mention–St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millenium Bridge, Chancery Lane and the Royal Courts of Justice, Kensington Palace, Hampstead Heath.

My top 5 to AVOID:

1-The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

I think the palace is worth a look, but I fail to see the attraction of crowding around tons of people to watch a very sophisticated shift change.

2-A show in the West End

When people talk about London theatre, I’m always interested. I took a theatre course while I was there, with the Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington. It was awesome.  But we went to see real theatre, not the musicals on the West End. I admit that I dislike musicals in general, but that is not the only reason this is on my list.  First of all, they are too expensive. About the same price you would pay for a Broadway show in NYC.  But if you go instead to the Old Vic (or the New Vic), to the National, or to smaller theatres in Soho, you can see amazing plays with some real substance for much less money. If you’re under 25 (I think it’s 25), you can get tickets for free or £2-4 online to see shows at the National. And you can see big names there. I saw a play at the Old Vic with Richard Dreyfuss; I saw one at the National with Gary Cole, who I love.  You can see 3 or 4 of these plays for what you would pay to see a West End musical like Billy Elliot or Oliver.  Plus, a lot of the West End shows are just a London cast of an American musical, and why not just see that at home if you’re so inclined?

Piccadilly Circus

This is the London equivalent of Times Square, and appeals to me just as little as its American counterpoint.  A bunch of tourists taking pictures of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not building and the Anteros sculpture.  Tons of shops with trite souvenirs for sale.  Pass.

4-Madame Tussaud’s

I don’t really mind MT’s, and I had to go get my picture taken with the Beatles, but the lines are so incredibly long that it is in no way worth it.  It’s also a bit pricy, after you wait for several hours to get in.

5-The London Eye

I do like the London Eye, so it hurts me to put it on the list. But if you go to London anytime between April and September, the lines are incredibly long.  It’s nice to get to see the city, and they offer some cool private party options if you wanted something special, but for the money and the lines, it’s not worth it just to go on a Ferris wheel. If you’re there in the off-season, then go for it. Otherwise, give it a pass.

Honorable mentions–Harrod’s (way too crowded, way too expensive, not even owned by a Brit anymore). Trafalgar Square (soo crowded.  If you’re going to go, go in off-hours or in the winter. Tower of London (the Tower is worth a look, but no way was I going to wait in the line to see the Crown Jewels).

So, I have seen all of these things, and am going back to a city as a tourist where I used to live.  I’m not sure what to see or do.  There are things I missed the first time around. I never got to go inside St. Paul’s cathedral.  There are things I want to see again–The Camden market, for example.  Decisions! I have a lot more money this trip than during my time there as a student, so I plan to eat some good food and enjoy myself a bit more this time.

I’m also really pleased to say that, this time, I’m going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! So excited.  I cannot wait to see the next big star doing some sort of weird anti-establishment play like Hamlet if he was a transvestite prostitute whose pimp was killed by his business partner, etc. Plus, Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world and I am so thrilled to go back.

If anyone has any suggestions for what to see, where to eat, what crazy performances I should see in Edinburgh, I’d love to hear them.